Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

SIFR Research Report Series,
Institute for Financial Research

No 21: Hedging, Familiarity and Portfolio Choice

Massimo Massa () and Andrei Simonov
Additional contact information
Massimo Massa: INSEAD, Finance Department, Postal: Boulevard de Constance, 77305 Fontainebleau, Cedex, France
Andrei Simonov: Stockholm School of Economics

Abstract: We exploit the restrictions of intertemporal portfolio choice in the presence of non-financial income risk to design and implement tests of hedging that use the information contained in the actual portfolio of the investor. We use a unique dataset of Swedish investors with information broken down at the investor level and into various components of wealth, investor income, tax positions and investor demographic characteristics. Portfolio holdings are identified at the stock level. We show that investors do not engage in hedging, but invest in stocks closely related to their non-financial income. We explain this with familiarity, that is the tendency to concentrate holdings in stocks with which the investor is familiar in terms of geographical of professional proximity or that he has held for a long period. We show that familiarity is not a behavioral bias, but is information-driven. Familiarity-based investment allows investors to earn higher returns than they would have otherwise earned if they had hedged.

Keywords: Asset pricing; Portfolio decision; Hedging

JEL-codes: G11; G14

70 pages, March 15, 2004

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